KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University Department of Public Safety (WMU DPS) joins a select group of police agencies in Michigan—and just three in Kalamazoo County—to be accredited for its policies and procedures, management, operations and support services.
As one of just 34 departments out of almost 600 police agencies in the state, WMU DPS meets the Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission's "best practice" standards to achieve accreditation, a highly prized recognition of law enforcement professional excellence. Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and Portage Public Safety also hold that designation in Kalamazoo County.
The accreditation "raises the bar" of the department's practices, says Deputy Chief Carol Dedow, evaluating the University's public safety agency against 107 different standards for high-risk liability actions, including use of force, vehicle pursuit and search and seizure, to internal operations, such as officer and workplace training, command structure and recruitment.
WMU DPS voluntarily sought accreditation beginning in May 2019 and was visited in November 2020 by an assessment team composed of law enforcement practitioners. They reviewed written materials, interviewed agency members and visited offices and places where compliance with the expected standards could be observed. The commission granted full accreditation status in February 2021.
"We wanted to ensure that our department is efficiently and effectively using the best policing practices and laws," Dedow says of the department that has 33 sworn officers. "We want our officers performing how our policies direct them to: to be trained well and have the proper equipment."
Accreditation also results in greater accountability within the agency, reduced risk and liability exposure and increased community advocacy, Dedow adds.
She says the department's pursuit of excellence won't stop after reaching this status. WMU DPS will continue to evaluate and build its programs and department for its own growth and to continue its accreditation status. Accreditation is valid for a three-year period during which time the agency must submit annual reports attesting to its continued compliance with those standards under which it was initially accredited.
"If you're stagnate and not improving, you're not growing and learning. Laws continually change; policies change. I don’t think you can ever stop being educated," Dedow says.
The Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, through its Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, is the legitimate authority and accreditation agency in the state of Michigan. For more information regarding the Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, write the commission at: MACP, Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission at 3474 Alaiedon Parkway, Suite 600, Okemos, Michigan, 48864 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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